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Breast lumps and benign (not cancer) breast conditions

Even though most breast lumps are not cancer, it’s important to get them checked. Learn about breast lumps and benign (not cancer) breast conditions.

1. Breast lumps

See your GP if you notice a breast lump

It’s important to get breast lumps checked by your doctor.

Even though most breast lumps are not cancer, a change to the way your breast feels or looks could be a sign of breast cancer. 

What happens when you see your GP?

Your GP will examine your breasts.

They may refer you to a breast clinic to investigate what’s causing the lump. 

Common causes of breast lumps

These include:

  • Fibroadenoma – a lump that often develops during puberty, but which can occur at any age
  • Breast cyst – a fluid-filled sac that can develop as the breasts change with age, more common in pre-menopausal women

Other causes of breast lumps:

Less common causes of breast lumps include:

  • Fat necrosis – a lump that forms when an area of fatty breast tissue is damaged
  • PASH (pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia) – usually felt as a painless lump in the breast
  • Benign phyllodes tumour – a rare cause of breast lumps 

2. Breast pain

Breast pain is very common in women of all ages. 

Find out what causes breast pain and how to manage it.

3. Nipple discharge (fluid from the nipple)

Most nipple discharge is not caused by cancer. 

However, report any new or unusual discharge to your GP. 

Causes of nipple discharge

Nipple discharge may be due to changing hormone levels.

Or it could be caused by a condition such as:

  • Duct ectasia – does not usually cause any symptoms but occasionally causes a milky discharge, a result of normal breast changes that happen with age 
  • Intraductal papilloma – a wart-like lump that develops in one or more of the milk ducts in the breast, may cause a brown or blood-stained discharge from the nipple
  • – usually seen in women aged 25–45

4. Other common breast conditions

Other common benign breast conditions include:

  • Breast calcifications – do not cause any noticeable symptoms, usually found during breast screening or an investigation for another breast problem
  • Periductal mastitis – occurs when the ducts (tubes) under the nipple become inflamed and infected, causing a tender, hot or reddened breast

5. Less common conditions

Less common benign breast conditions include:

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Quality assurance

Last reviewed in July 2021. The next planned review begins in July 2023.

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